Permax is the brand name for pergolide mesylate, a medicine used to treat
tremors and other symptoms of Parkinson's disease. Permax can also be
helpful to people whose legs often jump or feel restless, formally called Restless Leg Syndrome or RLS.
A new study released January 2007 reveals that two Parkinson’s drug – Permax and Dostinex – can cause heart valve damage.
Approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration in 1988, Permax came under
new scrutiny in December 2002 when Mayo Clinic doctors suspected it could
cause serious heart damage.
Only a few such cases have been discovered. But the damage was potentially
life-threatening, and Mayo doctors urged in-depth study of possible links
between Permax and heart disease.
The Mayo report also recommended that all Permax patients undergo heart
tests, and that those with the kind of damage associated with Permax be taken
off the drug.
While more must be learned about possible connections between Permax and
heart disease, known Permax side effects include involuntary spasms,
dizziness, nausea and chest pain. Other Permax side effects include
hallucinations, difficulty sleeping or staying awake and digestive problems.
Developed by Eli Lilly & Co., Permax is now marketed in the United States by
Amarin Pharmaceuticals Inc. More than 500,000 people have taken the drug.
Leaving aside Permax side effects and the possible link between Permax and
heart disease, the drug works by helping the brain control movement of the
body. Ordinarily, the brain does this by sending messages from one brain
cell to the next. The messages are sent via chemicals called
One such neurotransmitter is called dopamine. People with Parkinson's disease
suffer from a shortage of dopamine in the brain. This makes it hard for them
to control their movements, and produces the tremors typical of the disease.
However, Permax helps make up for a lack of natural dopamine, easing the
symptoms of Parkinson's disease.
Permax is usually prescribed along with a drug called levodopa or L-dopa,
which is often combined with another called carbidopa and sold under the
brand name Sinemet.
Like Permax, levodopa works to counteract a shortage of natural dopamine.
Permax helps the effects of levodopa last longer.